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College Station High School theatre department cast alumni's service dog for production of 'Annie'

Posted at 10:51 AM, Jan 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 11:51:22-05

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Walking on 4 paws and sporting a tail, Sammy looks to be just another labradoodle but this pup also has a role in College Station High School’s musical production of ‘Annie’.

Emma West is a student at CSHS and plays the title role of ‘Little Orphan Annie’ said Sammy is a such a professional.

“Honestly he is intuitive, he knows when the best time to look at me is and we’ll be singing and I’m looking at him and him and he looks at me and he truly is acting – it’s truly incredible. Said West.

Stacy Erskine is a of theatre teachers at college station high school who says the search for a well-trained dog was rough to find.

“We were trying to find a dog that would be able to follow commands and be comfortable with the students, with all the distractions with Live theatre – animals can’t be anything other than animals regardless of what happens.” Said Erskine.

That’s until Erskine was approached by one of her students – who just happens to live with the perfect pooch.

“Mrs. Erskin was telling us she was going to bring her dog from home and see how that dog worked out. I remembered about Sammy, my brother’s service dog, and I didn’t want to intrude, but I said I would speak to my family about it and see how they felt.” Explained Rilynn Lewis, CSHS Student and choreographer in ‘Annie’.

Off stage, Sammy is Kyler Lewis’ service dog, assisting Lewis after a health scare in 2020 discovering he had a rare blood vessel disease in the brain he had since birth called a brain AVM.

Kyler’s AVM ruptured in 2020 when Kyler was 15 years old. The required medical radiation treatment for Kyler’s rare disease resulted in Kyler developing epilepsy, tremors, and other physical complications.

The doctors knew this would occur, but it was the only choice the family had. To help Kyler, the family purchased Sammy, a labradoodle professionally trained by River’s Edge Dog Academy, a service animal training center here in College Station.

Kyler said Sammy assists everyone who needs it, especially his former alma mater.

“Sammy is my best companion, he keeps me safe, and I am so glad I can share him to help other people and to see him perform on stage.” Said Lewis.

You can purchase tickets for College Station High School’s Theatre production of 'Annie' HERE: https://cshstheatre.ludus.com/index.php
'Annie' opens to the public starting Thursday, January 26 at 7:00 p.m.